T Lewis, the illustrator and cartoonist behind the animated movie "Over the Hedge", moved from Houston to Omak in the 90's, when the Internet was in it's infancy. He and his wife Phylicia, who grew up in Omak, were starting a family, and decided that the lifestyle in Okanogan County suited them better than living in Houston (his hometown).
T says, "I really freaked out before moving to Omak, because I would lose my connections to my agent and my clients. This was before the Internet was user friendly. But then Windows 95 came along, with built in support for dial-up Internet. I was off and running with dial-up. Nobody dreamed of how commonplace broadband would be someday."
|T Lewis at work.|
After settling in Omak, T continued working for Disney Studios drawing the "Mickey Mouse" comic strip, and illustrated numerous children's books, including "Peter Pan". He also continued working with his writing partner, Mike Fry, who lived in Houston, developing a cartoon strip they originally called "The Secret Life of Pigs" (SLOP for short). This concept eventually evolved into "Over the Hedge", which became a syndicated comic strip, and eventually an animated movie.
During this time, he depended on dial-up service and FedEx overnight delivery to send his finished products to his publishers. "I was racing up to the Omak Airport every Thursday to send my 'Over the Hedge' finals to the publisher. I got to know the FedEx pilots pretty well."
In 2002, when the PUD began deploying it's wireless network, T became one of the first customers on their new wireless pilot project. T recalls that "Where broadband came in and made my life really wonderful was when the movie version of 'Over the Hedge' started happening. The timing was perfect." Dreamworks Studios had purchased the movie rights and had begun working on an animated movie version of the cartoon strip. T was a creative consultant with Dreamworks during this time, and "There was a lot of back and forth of information, like graphics, and eventually video clips".
|T working in his one of his "studios"- a touch-screen laptop at the kitchen table.|
Today, T sends all his artwork over broadband. The weekly "Over the Hedge" comic strip he once drew on paper now exists only as a digital file on his laptop, until he sends it and it is printed in newspapers. He continues to do other work, including doing illustrations for Baylor College of Medicine publications. He has recently begun testing the possibility of teaching an art class with students in Mongolia over Skype.
T working in his "other studio"- the walnut orchard at their ranch.
You can read more about T Lewis at http://lambiek.net/artists/l/lewis_t.htm